Media Lies and Libyan Lives

Although corporate western media have been reporting more than 50,000 dead in Libya – from the assaults of Gaddafi’s army – the reality is not even more than a couple of hundred bodies have been found so far.

And what is more ironic is that over 49,800 bodies are missing, right under NATO supervision.

This leads to critical questions:

a) If 50,000 were actually killed, where are the bodies?

b) Who must be held responsible for the missing bodies, considering that Gaddafi regime has nothing to do with post-mortem or morgues?

c) If indeed less than 200 were allegedly killed by Gaddafi regime, and that the 50,000 number is fictitious, who are responsible for such gimmick?

If the reported number of dead in Libya appears to be hundreds of times more than the actual dead, there should be nothing surprising about it. For decades now, western corporate media have been feeding the masses with blatant lies and sheer propaganda in the name of free press and balanced journalism. In due course of repeated slogans heralding principles of journalism, truth and objectivity, people have unquestioningly accepted the news reports – at least the ones related to proclamations made by their democratically elected governments. In trusting their governments, the voters trust their own intelligence. And when the media emerge as the platform for governmental misinformation disseminations, the most among the audience have no recourse other than to trust the mainstream media.

Such deceptive reporting(s) of exaggerated deaths have been done countless times in the past in the capitalistic regimes in an effort to spread fear, suspicion and hatred among the peoples towards the kinds of societies the ruling classes of Euro-American descent oppose. It happened while deaths were reported from Uganda during early 1970’s for instance when the media reported the number of dead to be over a million and years later it was revised to appear as a hundred thousand. Similar revisions were made during reporting on Cambodia of mid-1970’s. Such media reports gained historic admissibilities when the reporting of so-called Great Purge in Soviet Union was done. Initially it was reported that during late 1930’s, over 50% of Red Army officers were purged, and after several years, the number in the western media was reduced to 3%. In China under Mao, it was reported that at least 45 million deaths occurred between 1958 and 1962. And later the number was amended to become 20 million.

What’s interesting in the reporting of western press is that not only do they exclusively invent the numbers of deaths, but they also exclusively invent the corrections in the initially reported deaths. In case of Soviet Union, when the Civil Wars were being organized by the western military forces to annihilate Communism, the numbers of deaths caused by the Party were inflated to exhibit its barbarity. The moment Soviet Union was asked for critical interventions to contain Hitler’s quest over the First World, and millions of Soviet citizens died in the Second World War while resisting Nazi advances, the numbers of dead were drastically reduced by the western press. It served two purposes: firstly, the dead dissidents were reduced by number so that Stalin would be more acceptable to the United States to justify the Coalition Forces; secondly, the Red Army and working class Soviet people who sacrificed their lives in the War against Hitler were also reduced in number so that the role of the Soviet State would not be allowed to overshadow the roles of Britain and the US in the Second World War triumph.

In the instance of China, the Great Leap Forward was the biggest catastrophe in human history, until of course the arrival of Richard Nixon in Beijing in 1972. Suddenly the official numbers counted by the western media fell down by several millions overnight. And the Great Leap Forward was declared as having laid the foundation for the progress in China, considering that the China after Mao was to be wooed into becoming the largest business partner with the United States.

For those in the “Free World” that claim human lives are valuable and Communist and Islamic regimes do not value human lives must also be knowing that reducing the numbers of dead by millions starkly exemplifies the extent to which the slain people really count in the eyes of the evaluators. What about the missing millions of bodies? Do they matter? Where are the graves?

Cold War history has been so colored by western media propaganda that it has ceased to be Cold. As an unintended ramification and possible consequence of the old habits of generating fear psychoses and war justifications, the numbers continue to get inflated even today. In the case of Libya, before the issue is relegated to dustbins of history and before Gaddafi is eternally depicted as the dictator he was not, it is crucial to seek for answers regarding the number of actual deaths. Not just that, it is crucial to reflect upon the New York Times confessions:

“Much of the official death toll is based on the theory that there were 30,000 prisoners before the fall of the Qaddafi government, when prisons were all opened, and only 9,000 were found alive. The problem is, no one actually knows how many prisoners there were, and no one actually counted how many were released.”

So a regime which is being declared to be the cruelest in modern times used to have a merely 30,000 prisoners (political and criminal taken together, that is) during the great Misrule! Moreover, this number is actually an imaginary one, since only 9,000 prisoners were found in the prisons when the gates were opened! An entire country with 9,000 prisoners – must actually have been a mighty great nation.

Unlike the United States and the United Kingdom where prison-military-industrial-complex drives the economics, Libya was actually a free country before the “rebels” were armed and funded to take over and destroy the most secular of African nations.

Realities are strange reminders. They appear arbitrarily and knock our consciousness once in a while. The need is to wake up, when reality visits us. In undoing Libya, we would not have destroyed Gaddafi. We would have undone our potential quests to smell the realities.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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